What is it like to learn that your father, a Lutheran church president and Boy Scout troop leader, is responsible for a two decades-long killing spree?
In her memoir, Kerri Rawson opens up about what it is like to be the daughter of the BTK serial killer, and tonight, on an all-new episode of ABC News’ 20/20, Rawson will speak about the day she learned of her father’s double life.
Read on to learn more about Kerri Rawson, Dennis Rader’s daughter.
1. She Released Her Memoir in January
In January of this year, Rawson released her memoir, “A Serial Killer’s Daughter”.
In the book, she details the fateful day in 2005 when an FBI agent knocked on her door to inform her that her father had been arrested for the murder of 10 people, including two children.
The ‘About’ page for the website promoting the book reads, “[Kerri] was plunged into a black hole of horror and disbelief. The same man who had been a loving father, a devoted husband, church president, Boy Scout leader and a public servant had been using their family as a cover for his heinous crimes since before she was born. Everything she had believed about her life had been a lie.”
You can purchase the book here.
2. She Has Exchanged Letters with Her Father In Prison
According to ABC, it was a pastor at Kerri’s church who encouraged her to write letters to her father in prison.
They exchanged a number of handwritten notes in the months leading up to his plea. The two reportedly wrote about Rader’s court proceedings, reading the Bible, and their family.
In one letter from July 2005, Rader wrote, “You will always be my baby girl I raised right-proud-independent and now is a grown adult with many years of love to give… Life before the arrest was a good time and the dark side took me away.”
Speaking to ABC News’ 20/20 earlier this year, Rawson said, “I wasn’t corresponding with BTK. I’m never corresponding with BTK… I’m talking to my father. I’m talking to the man that I lived with and loved for 26 years. … I still love my dad today. I love the man that I knew. I don’t know a psychopath… That’s not the man I knew and loved.”
3. Her Mother Was Granted an Emergency Divorce in July 2005
In July 2005, after Rader’s sentencing, his wife, Paula Dietz, was granted an emergency divorce.
In a letter from September 22, 2005, Rader wrote Rawson stating that he wished his wife would write him.
In a separate 2005 interview, he phoned a local television station to talk about Dietz. Rader told KSNW, “Paula has opened up a little bit more… She’s writing a little bit more. Kids are hit-and-miss, you know, they’re busy.” Four days after the call, Rader pleaded guilty in court to the murders.
According to News Week, Paula moved from Kansas “for the seclusion of another state” after her husband’s arrest. She has not spoken to the media since, and it is unclear where she lives today.
4. She Says She Has Forgiven Her Father
A recent ABC News article states that Rawson, despite the obstacles she has faced, has forgiven her father.
The outlet quotes her as saying, “It was a very long journey… There was a lot of hard work in me, with faith. I had gone back to church. I was working on my relationship with God, working on my own heart.”
“I realized I was rotting within. I didn’t just forgive my father for him. I had to do it for myself.”
Today, the notorious killer remains imprisoned at the El Dorado Correctional Facility in Prospect Township, Kansas, where his earliest possible release date is 2180. He is 74.
5. She Has Not Visited Her Father in Prison
While she has been in and out of touch with her father since his arrest, Rawson has not yet visited her dad in prison.
Since the release of her book, however, she has found solace in the fact that she is able to help others. According to ABC News, Rawson has heard from a number of people who also suffer from past abuse and PTSD.
She tells 20/20, “I’m glad I’m able to make some small difference for the better in other people’s lives… And I’m hopeful for my family, my kids and [my husband] Darian, that we will continue to find peace.”
Today, Rawson lives with her husband, two children and two cats in Michigan.